From a standing start in 2004, digital music has grown at a phenomenal rate to the point where over 99% of singles are bought as downloads. There are now many ways to access music digitally, and the next five years will certainly see more exciting ways for people to listen to and own music.
Unpaid for and unlicensed digital file sharing has had a massive negative impact on music. In 2008, a startling 40 billion unauthorised files were traded illegally online meaning that hundreds of thousands of performers, song writers, musicians, producers, A&R scouts and everyone else involved in creating the music, didn't get paid for their work.
It has become a common argument that the big stars and the big record companies can ‘afford’ to lose out on sales to file sharing. This, however, is far from the reality. The profits generated by the big artists are reinvested by record companies into new talent (around 23% of their profits go straight back into new artists). And the impact of file sharing does not just affect them: it also affects the recording studios, the record producers, the video-makers, the manufacturers, the retailers and the distributors of music. If fewer artists are being invested in, there is less work for everyone in this chain.
Most of all it affects the new artists coming through, meaning there are fewer opportunities for them to be discovered, invested in and nurtured.
The British music scene is the richest (in terms of talent) in the world and the successful artists of today help to pay for the exciting new artists of tomorrow. Music remains one of the UK’s strongest and proudest exports and is absolutely key to the culture of the nation. Music is woven into the very fabric of our country; it is the most accessible and most emotionally-powerful art form that we have. Music creates communities and gives like minded people something to congregate around.
To end on a positive point, free music online doesn’t have to be illegal. Far from it. There are a multitude of services that give you access to music for free and, crucially, ensure that the artists get paid. From the ad-funded download and streaming services to the sites of the artists themselves and permanent download sites, there are many ways for you to access music for free in a way that does not damage the people who actually create that music and ensures that they can continue to make music for many years to come.
'You will find plenty of free legal download tracks on DreamStreaming!' Ed.